Director: Vitaly Mansky
121min Russia/Czech Republic/Germany Documentary
Dont’ be put off by the unappealing title of this amazing film about Russia today. Vitaly Mansky has based his evocative doc around the Trans-Siberian gas pipeline, built in 1983, that connected gas supplies from Siberia with consumers in the Czech Republic and Germany.
Like a silver cord running through this vast continent, it strings together a series of charming portraits of Russian life. His camera is objective, unflinching and inquisitive and some of the results are daunting: if you’d rather not see inside a working cremation oven, this is advanced warning to look away. But some vignettes are surprisingly funny: a little farm dog who lives inside a front-loader, and awe-inspiring: men fishing in a frozen Siberian river. Some endearing: a couple airing their views about Russian teenagers from their gaudily-decorated living room and a Church mass taking place inside a disused railway carriage.
With his magnificent widescreen compositions of majestic Soviet architecture and panoramic vistas of the frozen countryside, Mansky handles his doc with a lively dash of wit, showing us wealth and poverty in all its glory, and treating every living creature with respect. That life for real people in the provinces is still the same as it every was, is his message. His Russians are just like any other Europeans. A real eye-opener. MT
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PIPELINE IS SHOWING AS PART OF THE COMPETITION STRAND AT THE 7TH RUSSIAN FILM FESTIVAL IN LONDON FROM 7 UNTIL 17 NOVEMBER 2013